A Presidential Debate About…Ideas!

That's the good news. The bad news: the ideas.


After three of the dumbest months in modern American political history, something kind of wonderful happened Wednesday night at the Reagan Library: Carly Fiorina took a machete to the Donald Trump balloon.

By treating him more like an embarrassing if beloved house pet than a serious competitor, Fiorina, Rand Paul, and even Ben Carson put The Donald on his heels, leaving him with little more misfired put-downs and bizarro anti-vaccine riffs. For whole stretches of a time, the oxygen-hog was silent, leaving the candidates to talk about—of all things!—ideas. So that's the good news. The bad news? Well, the ideas.

Did you know that ISIS was on the verge of toppling Western Civilization? That immigration has destroyed us as a country? That the military has been cut down so brutally that the Marines can barely tie their own shoes anymore? These surreal assertions and more were treated as fact by wide swaths of the GOP field.

But amid the nonsense there were glimmers of hope. Rand Paul showed some belated signs of life, pointing out accurately that if you want to go to war in Iraq again, there's a Bush and a Clinton and 14 other candidates ready and willing. An honest-to-goodness discussion about drug policy revealed Chris Christie as the lying bully he is. Some candidates even talked about the $18 trillion debt, and unsustainable entitlements. Of all things.

But the candidate who gave us the most reason to hope wasn't Carly Fiorina, or Rand Paul, or even Ben Carson: It was Lindsey Graham.

"That's the first thing I'm going to do as president," he told the crowd. "We're going to drink more!"


NEXT: Carly Fiorina Won Tonight's GOP Debate With This One Moment

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  1. What will he drink, though?

    1. Pabst or Yeager Bombs.

      1. Chuck Yeager Bombs?

        1. SupermilitaragisticDumDumDonaldacious !

    2. Protein milkshake he got from a handsome young man that he met in Gaithersburg?

    3. Why, a refreshin’ Mint Julep, of course. (said in your best southern belle accent).

    4. Alcohol elitist a$$-oles! Yes, lets all consume gallon of the most destructive drug on the darned planet! But, we can never legalize drugs, so we can treat the disease of addiction as a medical problem.

      As has been stated before…Why the heck drive us to drink?!

      1. The prohibitionists are exhausting. You will not convince me alcohol ok, others bad. Alcohol is the gateway drug. It is evil.

  2. “After three of the dumbest months in modern American political history”

    Two of which are shared with the dumbest months in Reason history.

    1. Yeah, I’m not getting it about anything, from anywhere, or anyone, anymore. Is the whole world partaking in some new, powerful mind altering substance I haven’t been told about?

  3. Welch, is that bed head or really your haircut?

  4. Didn’t watch it, had no desire to, and Matt, as an editor in chief of a magazine, you and your writers have left me with nearly zero information as regards the debate.
    So Carly ‘won’ and the idea that really matters is that we should drink more?
    If Reason is going to be a side bar, at least you could provide links to news organizations who are covering the story; pathetic.

    1. For those who would prefer some information rather than editorial snark, you might look here:
      “Fiorina emerges in GOP debate, but Trump still dominates conversation ”
      “Republican debate: Fact-checking the candidates”
      Whatever part of your salary you were getting from my contributions, you ain’t getting it this year.

      1. I’m with you. Reason writers are too above it all to bother writing seriously about politics any more. One of their writers tweeted a photo of himself playing video games. This is the leading magazine of libertarianism?

        1. Wasn’t it the new Metal Gear though? I’m ok with this if it was.

        2. One of their writers tweeted a photo of himself playing video games.

          The horror!

    2. This isn’t an article. It’s the literary version of a sound bite. And a lazy one at that. Although I’m confident that there will be three new hit pieces on Trump by the end of the day.

  5. Ahh, I just figured out where the anger in the comentariat comes from. They said: Buy my magazine, even though the content is freely available.
    You heard: Give me money for this freely available content, and I’ll fight for your ideals.
    Has the class learned anything from this?

  6. Since Trump had a pretty shitty debate, I wonder what the polls will show now. Even Carson didn’t really stand out. I guess Fiorina stood out if you like what she says.

    But overall it was pretty lousy. The way that the moderators seemed to try to egg on the candidates into reality-style t.v. fighting and the time limits, yeah. Not great.

    1. Yeah, I hated that theme. “This guy says X…. would you comment on what he says?”

      Over and over they kept asking the candidates to address each other and tell us what they thought about each other’s positions. Which is pretty lame, but the kicker was that most of this was also in the form of “please attack Trump. Please say something critical of Bush.” Instead of pulling out the more interesting things that the bottom 7 have to say, they tried to make it a free-for-all attack on the frontrunners.

      Still, I mostly thought they did a better job than FOX of sticking to relevant issues. I don’t recall any “does God tell you what to do?” questions.

      1. I’m guessing Welch and Epstein had big hate boners over the ‘attack Trump’ theme.

      2. I didn’t watch. I would hope that someone, maybe Fiorina, would finally say, “Why don’t you ask me to say something about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?”

      3. Very surprised CNN didn’t have a black lives matter segment. Or Caitlyn. Assumed a social media question would be.
        But tapper disappointed me with first ten mins on omg like Donald totally said yer ugly..knock it off.

    2. I watched it for a while but have to agree the style was crap. But then it was CNN, of course they want to make the Repubs look bad.

  7. Drown the centralized beast

  8. I thought the format was pretty good. The panel tended to ask followup questions and encouraged the debaters to actually debate each other. Not perfect, but far more refreshing than the usual practice.

    Since Paul isn’t going to get the nomination, it would be incredibly ironic and satisfying to see Fiona get it and take Hillary’s ace card away.

    1. Fiorina vs Hillary would be a fun match-up, but I guarantee you the narrative would be that Fiorina is not truly a woman because she doesn’t support free (meaning taxpayer-paid) birth control for all women — which means she must be against birth control entirely.

      Sadly, the idiots who apparently make up 80% of the electorate, would buy this without question. “Duhh, yup. If ya doughnt want to give away somethink at no cost, it meenz you dohn wan anybody to have it. Ima votin fur Hillary!”

      1. I’m sure that argument would be made, but Fiorina has already effectively argued that women are not a special interest group. It’s a brilliant move because women WILL still like her because she’s a woman but it helps to disarm any criticism that she’s not somehow a real woman because of XYZ.

        Put another way, in a race between Fiorina and Clinton, gender is no longer an issue. That takes away one of Clinton’s biggest favorability assets. The race for non partisan votes then comes down to issues, history/experience, and performance/style. Probably not a huge practical difference on most issues. Clinton has more experience but far more historical baggage and Fiorina seems to have a much better style and seems to perform better in person. Unless Fiorina has been shielding a dislikable personality, she will always win the likability vote.

      2. Yeah, to truly prove you will serve the needs of women, you need to spend your life running interference for sexual predators.

      3. I dont understand why lib women don’t want public money out of it. Then the public can just stay out of it. Those things cost money, and they churn them out so where’s that go? How much more do they need? But no. We shouldn’t fund it. Ya got there, get out. On your own or have less options. Or find someone willing to help. No one should have to help you. THATS your choice.

  9. Turned on the radio yesterday during a quick trip for smokes. I just happen to catch the Mark Levin bit on the Graham assertion about Reagan drinking with O’Neal. His take was quite different from Lindsey’s, but then he was there.

    Whose version to believe?
    *sucks air through teeth*

    1. I listened to that Graham part on the radio. He was explaining why he has had said some positive things in the past about Clinton. I thought he handled the whole thing very effectively and even if that account of Reagan on O’Neal is highly embellished, it was still an effective way to communicate that he is willing to work with his opponents to solve problems. That’s a message that most people want to hear, even if it comes from someone who has no chance at winning.

  10. I thought Rand did a good job of staying away from the kiddie table.

    He’s in a good position to play a long game. The issues piped up on (Weed = states issue, no stupid military adventures, criminal justice reform, etc.) will all play well in lategame, as questions shift to “yes, but how will you win the general election?”

    Unfortunately, he’s an evil pot smoking spineless cop-killer who will be devoured as such if he shows himself as a threat too early.

    The more I think of it (and the lower this bottle gets) the more I see him as a protoss player trying to tech rush in the face of mass 6 pool cheese.

    1. Greatest. Metaphor. Ever.

  11. I’m going to surf around a bit. See what the rest of the Gigantiverse is thinking.

  12. What drug legalization does by most statistics is lower drug use not increase it. The better question is what is so wrong with our society that drug use is so rampant. And if drug use is so terribly evil why is it that no one is arresting celebrities, the rich and our elected official that seem to think it is OK for them and not for everyone else. Does being rich, famous and powerful somehow negate the harmful effects of drug use. Life is all about choices and learning to take responsibility for those choices. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time around the winos around Houston. They knew their lifestyle was hurting themselves but they didn’t blame anyone else for there choices. I say stop coddling people and let them live or die by their choices

    1. Uh, let’s see…

      Rich people don’t generally get popped for drug crimes because they’re usually not stealing money for drugs or selling them. Their use is illegal, of course, but most people don’t get busted for using drugs unless they are doing it in public.

      Assuming that there is something wrong with society that makes people want to use drugs is quite the silly assumption. Instead, you need to consider that people do a variety of things for entertainment and recreation that are often not exactly the healthiest decisions they can make. And that’s okay, because who on Earth wants to live a life where all activities are the safest and healthiest….?

  13. Walker should have said, “In 8 years I will have outlawed federal employee unions and cut their pensions in half.”

  14. I liked Fiorina among that group.

    I think Rand Paul would be a great VP as president of the Senate and someone calling bullshit on the POTUS.

    I think all senators suck at administration. Obama can’t execute on a damned thing. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

  15. “I’m definately not winning this shit.” – Lindsay Graham

  16. Some candidates even talked about the $18 trillion debt, and unsustainable entitlements. Of all things.

    That’s not a good thing to talk about, since fixing it requires some seriously unpleasant policy changes affecting powerful political lobbies.

  17. The “debate” was a waste of time, a distraction, nothing more. Governments, and presidential candidates, regardless of whether they are elected or not, do not solve problems, only create more of them 🙂

    Fact: there are _no_ political solutions for _any_ percieved “problem” ; never have been, never will be – not “right wing”, not “left wing” , not even so-called “Ron Paul”, or “libertarian” solutions.

    Fact: As long as you believe that real political solutions actually exist, dear reader, you will remain firmly locked inside “the Matrix”; i.e. exactly where the Obama’s, Trumps, Sanders , Pauls, etc. all want you to be:-)

    Fact: the author of this article is just another in the endless stream of “inside the matrix” writers doing their utmost to keep you firmly buried/entrenched deep inside that “matrix”, by encouraging/flattering yours and others here endless fantasies of dreamed of political “solutions” to yours, the country’s, or the world’s, problems, when in fact, there are none, can be none, and never have been any 🙂 .

    Regards, onebornfree.

    1. You convinced me! All is lost, if not part of science fiction (non-reality) mantra!

      I guess that means no more 1984-like comments, for me.

  18. It took both Welch and Epstain to write this……article? So they wrote, what, seventy words apiece? Basically as a quick dig at Trump to start the day? Obsessive and weak.


    2. You’re right, it is pathetic and it fits a pattern that seems to be getting worse. I don’t want “there’s nowhere else to go” to be the reason I come here.

      1. And it’s not liking there is anything wrong with calling Trump out on bullshit. But this isn’t even that. And let’s be honest, Reason has been disturbingly obsessive with shrill vitriol townds Trump. And the open borders thing gets old too. Like anyone who expresses reservations about uncontrolled border crossing or unrestricted immigration is a crackpot? That’s a Nancy Pelosi position. And not a good one.

  19. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  20. Matt Welch apparently wants us to embrace those lovable illegal immigrnats, who he claim are innoculous. Welch will lose any debates that ctes thenegatives of those Hispanic illegals with rema sof data about their extreme propensity to commit murder (no problem, says Welch) or rape or robbery. Or their 65% welfare record or food stamp record, or the fatc thet they havestolen 1 million jobles destined for African-Americans. I hope Black (who are flockingto Trump, also legal Hispanics) remember Matt Welch and his attempt to destroy trump and the anti-immigration movement. Obama’s govt collects every statistic imaginable about criminals EXCEPT whether they are illegal Hispanics. Well, here’s some data for the multi-ignorant Mr Welch : over the past several years almost 3000 Texans killed by illegals, illegals accounting for over 30% of the crime rate in several states.

    1. If stats aren’t available, where do you come up with the thirty percent? I suspect there’s a disproportionate crime rate but where are you getting your numbers from?

      1. I’m curious about that too. Even Ann Coulter stated in her book, and related interviews that hose kinds of stats are extremely difficult to come by. And whatever you think of Coulter, she does extensive research for her books.

  21. Is it that the ideas are “bad”, or just that you disagree with them?

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  23. I’m just gonna let the racism out. I have to say it. I dont like no foreign lady bein my first lady.
    Trump. Bush, yer out. For so many reasons but being shallow.
    And speaking of foreigners. Cruz, later, eh.
    Rubio and jindal at least had people here and staying. Or on their way to permanent.
    American is born here because you were supposed to be born here.
    If the president has to be born here, so too should first lady. They used to be arm candy and dinner but its a job for them too now.

    And sorry had never realized how tiny lady face Lindsay was. Or is Pataki and giant?

  24. ????Start your home business right now. Spend more time with your family and earn. Start bringing 78$/hr just on a c0mputer. Very easy way to make your life happy and earning continuously. Start here?….


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